Oxford City Council’s Attack on Civic Freedoms

Oxford City Council’s Attack on Civic Freedoms

Sign our petition to protect civic freedoms in Oxford

Freedom of expression is under threat in Oxford. Singing a song or playing a musical instrument on the streets without permission could soon become a criminal offence under new plans developed by the Labour controlled local authority.

Oxford City Council are proposing to use controversial powers contained in the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to make ‘non-compliant busking’ anywhere in the city a criminal offence amongst many other activities including riding bicycles on the wrong streets, feeding birds, sleeping rough and pavement art, or, in the words of Labour Councillor Dee Sinclair, one of the architects of these proposals, any behaviour which might make people ‘feel uncomfortable’.

It is no small irony that these attacks on civic freedoms are happening in Oxford, the birthplace of King John, exactly 800 years after the first Magna Carta was sealed. Whilst Oxford’s libraries hold over a quarter of the world’s copies of this ancient document, the principles of liberty, freedom of expression and justice are under direct threat from its city council with its proposals to use a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ (PSPO) to criminalise activities which are a normal part of the everyday life of the city.

Under Oxford’s proposals, ‘non-compliant’ busking would become a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to £1000 and a life long criminal record. Oxford is already one of the most restrictive cities for busking in the UK and ‘requires’ all buskers to provide passports, driving licenses and/or birth certificates as well as proof of address, and issues them with photo ID ‘Busking Cards’ before they are ‘allowed’ to busk. They have a highly prescriptive ‘voluntary’ code of conduct which places strict and arbitrary limits on where and when and for how long buskers can play, states that they must not be heard plainly from 50 metres and must stop performing for any reason if told to do so by a police or council officer (turning public officials into ‘civic Simon Cowells’ who can stop whatever they don’t like).

Importantly, Oxford’s busking policy currently has no formal basis in UK law which, in keeping with the tradition of liberty first enshrined in the Magna Carta, allows people to play music and sing on the streets without state interference provided that they are not causing a noise nuisance or obstructing the highway. Most towns and cities in the UK (Including York, Cambridge, Bath, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, St Albans, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bournemouth and many others) do not require performers to obtain a ‘Busking Card’ or license before performing, and instead publish a code of conduct with expected behaviour and only take action against those buskers who cause specific issues.

Oxford City Council spuriously claim that ‘non-compliant’ buskers cause ‘unfair and unsafe’ practices (which they don’t specify) and that they need additional powers to use against those buskers who don’t obtain a ‘Busking Card’. But state licensing of street music is an infringement on freedom of expression because it gives council officials and police officers the arbitrary power to regulate cultural content and to pick and choose what they allow to happen, even when no laws are being broken. It is a threat to civil liberties by requiring musicians to surrender their personal details to the local authority when no offence has been committed. Additionally, it gives the local authority the power to arbitrarily remove a ‘Busking Card’ from anybody they don’t like, or to introduce charges which will prevent people who can’t afford a ‘Busking Card’ from busking. It is also unnecessary because the police and the local authority have a wide range of existing powers that they can use whenever any public nuisance or obstruction has been caused.

Oxford City Council’s proposal to use Public Space Protection Orders to regulate busking represent a clear misuse of the law in order to attempt to prop up a restrictive and illegitimate busking scheme by prioritising administrative convenience over and above cultural freedom. They represent unwarranted state interference with freedom of expression and are an unjustified threat to civic freedoms in public space, freedoms which are necessary in an open and democratic country. At the time PSPOs were being debated in Parliament the UK government gave firm assurances that the powers would not be used against buskers unless they were ‘an antisocial minority…aggressive beggars and drunken louts’. Oxford are trying to include any artist or musician who dissents from their busking scheme into the category of criminal. Actually, it is entirely possible to busk in Oxford without a ‘Busking Card’ without causing nuisance or having a detrimental effect on the life of those in the locality. Oxford’s proposals would therefore criminalise innocent people and have a chilling effect on the cultural life of the city.

The Keep Streets Live Campaign is a not for profit organisation which exists to protect and support informal perfomances of art and music in public spaces. We have successfully challenged unjust council busking policies in Liverpool, York and Canterbury where we now work alongside the local authority in both cities to introduce a Best Practise Guide for busking that works for the good of all. We have also advised the Mayor of London on his ‘Busk in London’ scheme designed to make London ‘the most busker friendly city in the world’. We are urgently seeking the repeal of anti-busking legislation by working with Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement Jones whose Live Music Act 2012 was a landmark victory for live music and culture in the UK and who asked the government searching questions in Parliament about the misuse of the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to curtail busking.

We urgently invite Oxford City Council to abandon their attempt to criminalise and marginalise street musicians by using PSPOs, and instead to work alongside the Musician’s Union, local buskers and the Keep Streets Live Campaign to design a policy that works for all such as the the best practise guide we developed alongside Liverpool City Council with the full participation of the busking community there and the Musician’s Union.

In the 800 years since the Magna Carta was first issued, freedom has been a cornerstone of British democracy. As the City which houses some of the oldest copies of that document, we call upon Oxford City Council to rethink its plans to use PSPOs to criminalise a wide range of activities that should not be in the realm of criminal law or else the local authority risks creating a relationship of antagonism towards those it exists to serve whilst making the city a more alienating and less welcoming place for all who live, work and visit it.

Follow this link to the complete Oxford City Council’s online consultation on these proposals.

Sign the Manifesto Club’s petition calling on Oxford City Council to rethink its plans to use PSPOs in Oxford

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

100 Comments on "Oxford City Council’s Attack on Civic Freedoms"

  • raggidman says

    Busking is a cultural freedom. Good manners also.

    Rough Sleeping is mostly down to the failure of local Councils’ to provide adequate and suitable accommodation for people, taking into account their specific circumstances

    This local council does not sound like a Labor Council – the proposals are not only grossly authoritarian but also put together widely different matters that cannot be decided in the same manner under the same guidelines

    In short the proposed legislation is a nonsense and the proposer should be re-evaluated re his suitability as a party candidate

    raggi raggidman

  • Dr John says

    What happens at the moment if you busk but dont have a licence? Will we be arrested or our instruments confiscated – ( we make a living from music).

    We want to visit the city for the day and would like to offset some of the costs by busking. We are professional musicians specialsiing in relaxing
    Bosa Nova music. We dont want to have to apply for a license as we are only there for a day and wont be coming back on a regular basis. Plus we want to come today or tomorrow due to some unexpected free time we have at the moment.

    Many thanks for your efforts

  • To paraphrase & re-edit an ‘insighful’ comment I picked up elswhere ( * source withheld ) I cite how funny it is that in some of the places I am familiar with ‘busking’ Police are failing to ‘police’ anything in the town of any relevance to ‘actual’ crime and social problems, at ‘street’ level anyways – and one criminalised Street Performer at a time!.

    Whereas Oxford appears to be going down the rather dangerous route of using PSPO’s as a ‘substitute’ for good policing, together with all the ‘crack a walnut with a sledgehammer’ negative ‘domino-knock-on-effect’ that goes with this type of policy.

    On the other hand ‘rumour’ has it that in other towns I know, the council intentions seem to be about using the ‘opportunites’ provided by the ‘new’ Anti-Social Behaviour Policing Act 2014 as a kind of ‘cash cow’ eg. £160 on-the-spot fines for various up until now ‘petty’ misdemeanors in the park-space.

    Be interesting to see – May is the ‘apparent’ implementation date – if these new public sanctions become a ‘reality’ along with the recently introduced public toilet entry fees, the already high car-parking fees etc?.

    • Oh and in this age of ‘political correctness’ ( gone mad that is! ) dog lovers beware. Out walking the pooch, forgot the ‘poop’ scoop & darn it! nature calls? Well thats a £160 on-the- spot fine!.

      • A ‘whopping’ £160 fine!

        • Oxfords policy towards Buskers amounts to actually treating working ‘people’ like ‘animals’, its ‘restrictions’ could literally put performers ‘on the streets’.

          PSPO ‘controlled’ 1 hr playing times, on ‘designated’ pitches represents a trend towards ‘draconianism’ that threatens to ‘choke’ the living out of us all.

          • You can’t sell CD’s, massive fines etc, this is ‘negative’ Local Council economics that discriminates unfairly against sectors of the creative ‘working’ community that could do with a helping hand, a leg up.

            Ok not everyone loves you out there but this quite unnecessary and ‘petty’ little policy ( compare with the successful ‘liberal’ Busking Schemes elsewhere ) surely, does’nt represent the Public view.

            Common experience tells me that this implementation of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill is just to satisfy the ‘ego’/wishes of a portion of obviously ‘prejudiced’ local interests & the ‘dark’ will of a group of ‘power’ ( & funds ) hungry councillors.

          • Do not even ‘entertain’ the thought of voting for people, Councils whose policies may ‘destroy’ you. A big No!.

          • The short-sighted decision made and the dirty ‘deed’ done, many of you can kiss goodbye to a life of ‘freedom’ & ‘potential’. Say hello to a future of human stifledness and ‘civic’ oppression.

          • Once more ‘central’ Government is continally introducing ‘new’ laws whilst ruthlessly cutting legal ‘resources’ eg legal aid.

            There are further ways by which an individual ( a person ) may find themselves ‘weighed down’ by heavy legislation!.

          • Street Performers and Artists are one such group; I wonder how many ‘percieved’ minorities are being, ‘swept’ aside like this?

          • The ‘public space’ that could so easily be managed as a place of ‘creative’ opportunity today being transformed into a kind of political ‘obstacle’ course!

          • What hypocrisy ( & self-centred greed ) though!. During the last decade or so we’ve seen the ‘growth’ of Sunday trading & the extension of shop/retail trading hours.

            Why not a healthy ‘liberalisation’ of the StreetPerforming & Street Art market to match?

            Afterall professional-like ‘Public’ Musicians are beginning to emerge & they are having a very ‘positive’ influence in our town & city centres i.e a publicly welcome & ‘entertaining presence. These kinds of performer ( ‘creative’ people ) should be encouraged ( not suppressed! ).

          • I’d like to see an ‘improvement’ in the way Government go’s about its business & provides ‘justice’ for ‘all’ its citizens.

          • Let us see the creation & implementation of ‘codes’ that actually treat people like ‘adults'; a civic management approach that encourages ‘personal responsibility’ rather than the present ‘authoritarian’ stance.

            Take a look at the evidence found elsewhere eg. Stratford upon Avon, Birmingham, Liverpool, York, Wincester etc & see how a more enlightened ‘liberal’ approach to ‘civics’ eg. Busking, Street Entertainment, in turn brings about ‘positive’ results; administratively creates more postive’ outcomes!.

          • Importantly, In the long term, I’m sure the true ‘liberal’ democratic approach will save money eg prision bills, psychiatic ward bills etc. It may even save a few lives eg. murders, suicides etc!. Though Ok maybe not the ‘working’ lives ie. careers, of a few Bankers!.

          • Finally of course all this ‘draconianism’ is compounded by the fact that we are today living in a political climate that has seen the steady legislative appearance of so called ‘Hate Crime’ laws eg. Ed Milliaband has said that he would make ‘Islamophobia’ a crime.

            We’ve got to be very careful with this kind of ‘policial trend’ recognising that theres a huge difference between eg the ‘human feeling’ of say hate & an ‘action’ like ‘incitement to murder’.

            We can’t & should’nt try to legislate against ’emotion’ & to be fair maybe Ed Milliband does’nt directly ‘specifically’ intend this ( on 2nd thoughts maybe he does? ). The ‘real’ problem begins when ‘ordinary’ human beings start to feel that they’re living in an environment where they have to ‘shut their honest feelings down’.

            As any ‘serious’ Writer, Artist knows ( nevermind the Psychotherapists ) eg Orwell 1984, this can have ‘dangerous’ consequences. And these ‘my friends’ are the rather ‘totalitarian’ times we’re beginning to live in.

            So furthermore, I’m calling right here for ‘the freedom to feel’!. To respond to ‘reality’ ( & the human situation ) authentically, to be able to love & hate anyone you so wish.

          • Who knows, with your ‘honest’ feelings out in the open, you maybe able to ‘work’ these too, to a ‘positive’ conclusion!.

          • A positive ‘just’ conclusion!.

  • Another ‘state’ insititution that appears to ‘prey’ on peoples ‘natural’ human weaknesses ( inlination to laziness etc ) and ‘situational’ moral dilemnas ( ‘predicaments’ ) in life is the HMRC otherwise known as The Tax Office with its ‘incremental’ penalty system for ‘late’ Tax Returns, which for the unwary ( & uninitiated ) can run into £1000’s.

    In myth, those dangerously seductive Sirens, from Jason and the Argonauts & Homers Ancient Greek classic The Odyssey spring to mind. The Tax office like the Sirens has the power to send any young business crashing on the rocks as the penalties build up almost without warning, and like the Sirens it can in ‘reality’ string that process out, milking every penny and ’emotion’ from you until your fall.

    So please all young Street Performing ‘acolytes’, Beware!, keep your ‘wits’ about you and most importantly look for the ‘signs’ eg Keep Off The Grass! ( in the case of the Councils etc ) or in the case of The Sirens yourself draw upon the powers of that more mysterious ‘hidden’ wisdom message within us all yes, but all too often lying dormant, and whispers in the back of the mind ‘ You Can Look – & even ‘Listen’ maybe – But You Can’t Touch!’.

    • Dog lovers again be extra careful because under the current political/economic conditions, I can see that earlier £160 , in a flash, doubling up to a ‘super-dupa!’ £320 fine if the same thing were to happen on the ‘evening’ walk. Especially after that hungry ( ‘growing’ ) young Pup of yours has gulped down the daily dish of Winalot & a couple of bowls of water!.

      • Now this is how things look to me through the ‘square’ window, as for the ’round’ window I’m not sure whether I am directly qualified to comment.

        But having mentioned ‘Sirens’ in my discourse perhaps I could talk a little about ‘Don Juans’, those one-sided ‘shadow’ Lover male-archetypes, dysfuncionally in-capable of forming any ‘authentic’, deep, loving, intimate relationships with the opposite sex.

        Anyway on a more ‘positive’ note………………..

  • Have you ” Ever seen a Street Tree in blossom?”, in beautiful full Summer blossom, particularly around June time ?
    ( concept borrowed from Liz Ixer )

    • End of riff!. Back onto thinking what role ‘Town Planners & Planning Depts’ have in all of this?. In the past, in many quarters, in the minds of many, I note these institutions always had a reputation as ‘social’ hygenists & ‘architectural’ fascists!

      • The question of a more enlightened ( ‘progressive’ ) response to society’s ‘ills’ & frustrations also springs back to mind, inspired by this intelligent quote;

        ” Why is the ‘social’ justice mobs response to any percieved injustice always to try and lose someone their job ( or get them arrested ) ?. ”
        ( *Source withheld )

        • Meditating on those ‘repressed’ Public Schoolboys, ‘puritanical’ Middle Classes who see but do not ‘feel’ the consequences of policy i.e. their decisions!.

  • Byetheway somebody has just asked me, who am I voting for in the up and coming ‘general’ election?. Well I’m voting for the ‘Walker’ Family: Jonny Walker, Philipa Morgan Walker and the Rev John H Walker et al .

    Yes the very ‘founders’ ( & Proprieters ) of this website.They appear to want it enough, work pretty hard for it, and so in a way I guess they deserve it.

    So calling on all Street Performers and Artists on May 7, Vote ‘the Walkers’ & let them run the country!.

    • *Reprise Riff

      ” …………….thats what most ‘colonists’ do – they land & then find a way of wiping out their competition. In America
      it was blankets covered in Smallpox & in Australia it was ‘permits’ to hunt ‘Aborigines’. If you wipe a whole people from the face of the earth, then theres no one to point a finger at you. Its just their ‘spirits’ that haunt you & spirits can’t do shit ”
      ( Alex Latimer – The Space Race )

  • Yes vote ‘Walker’ for a better economic policy. For ‘good’ reasons to as I’ve just been looking at the Labour Party Manifesto & note some of the proposals made by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls ( along with the Tories ) are just that ( a ‘leitmotiv’ theme on these pages ) representing pretty much a ‘variated’ programme of much of the same. eg. What are both these parties going to do about, along with ‘growth’, much needed ‘skills’ development and training in this country amongst ‘all’ its people?.

    We seem to live in 2 Worlds 1. a world of privelage where you set yourself ‘clear’ goals, play to your strengths, do what you enjoy & then go on to live a meaninful, purposeful career and ‘rich’ life. 2. a world of welfare where you’re told what to do & where under threat of heavy ‘sanction’ you’re expected to take whatever job is on offer regardless of ‘real’ suitablility or ‘fit’. Wheres the ‘justice’ in that?.

    I watched a ‘local’ news programme the other night on early evening TV ( See Nationwide ) and the issue of ‘skill’ training came up. Whilst the one interviewee called for a ‘serious’ drive to increase ‘skills’ levels across the board to meet with ‘future’ growth
    demands his opposite, a local Business Woman, insisted on a ‘safer’ form of investment as all she & her company required were young people who could basically answer the telephone and speak politely to incoming callers.

    You could use the latter statement as part of an argument critiquing Schools inadequacy for not even being up to producing kids who can answer the phone properly. However from the larger perspective I cite this kind of response as evidence of how human-beings with so much ‘latent’ ability are reduced to a basic objects & their possible future potential re-shaped & molded to fit the profit-making agendas of the local Bourgeiosie ( Business Class ).

    I popped into Birmingham city centre the other day to get my hair cut. Its been a while so one could’nt help but be overwhelmed by all the un-earthing and digging going on, wires, cable everywhere.

    You could’nt also fail to notice the contrasting sight to all the buildings going up, tram-lines going down, this ‘futurist’ heaven i.e. the ‘social’ fact that there were human-figures, in sleeping bags, begging everywhere, on every street & every corner eg. Corporation Street, New Street, Hill Street, On the way from Moor Street Station & on the way to it!.

    The whole urban scene these days seems to be taking on a ‘Third World Character’, one representing ‘extremes’ between rich and poor. For me Birmingham today is a representative picture of the ‘new’ Capitalist hierarchy of Investors & ‘super’ Rich at the top and sheer people of poverty at the bottom, that together with quite a ‘blurred’ middle ground.

    Its also noticeable how any notion of ‘popular’ capitalism amongst these todays ‘masses’ have seemingly vanished. The middle appear to be just existing, homogenising and surviving.

    There was one sign though that did stand out for me & represented the kind of self-interested business activity we might expect to see ’emerging’ from the herd, more and more of in the future. That was the sight by New Street Station of 2 guys with ‘ Abbey ‘ Road style beards one with an ‘acoustic’ guitar & about to ‘strum’, the other one with a similar guitar but in his case strapped rather ‘cooly’ ( ‘Bandito’ Style ) across his back.

    I’m noticing this ‘trend’ elsewhere, its catching on, especially amongst Street People. In fact a guy drew up on his ‘mountain’ bike the other day, wipped out a sleeping bag, sat down opposite where I was playing. He was moved on by PCSO’s ( thats when I initially noticed him actually sat there! ), to return later, set up behind me, with a ‘money’ case ( empty! ) placed in front of him
    and a ‘landscape’ art painting placed beside him with the notice attached on it ‘ For Sale! ‘.

    Only the other day I saw the same guy again but this time with an ‘acoustic’ guitar, & as you guessed it ‘strapped’ rather ‘cooly’ ( Bandito Style ) across his back. No sign of ‘him’ actually playing it though!.

    • Q. My ‘Social’ Policy?
      A. ‘Active’ intervention via ‘Existential’ Psychotherapy, plus a ‘reformed’ welfare state ( incl: ‘enlightened’ Career Service )

      • Q. My ‘Economic’ Policy?

        A. ( For Now ) A ‘classic’ Liberal Economic policy based on an Adam Smith Style ‘Wealth’ Creation programme. Whereby ‘wealth’ is defined as ” all the things conducive to life eg. beautiful gardens, freedom etc ( * See Adam Macfarlaine Professor of Anthropology, Kings College, Cambridge University – his Lectures on Social Theory )

        ( For Later ) Movement towards the development and ‘achivement’ of a future ‘high’ technological ‘scarce’- free style Economy.

        • * Note
          All this is just for ‘starters’ stuff has got to happen in the schools & the whole process of schooling including strategies involving more ‘on-line’ education and ‘home’ learning.

          • * Note
            Including getting back to ‘Nature’ & recognising the value of the ‘physical’ ( i.e. ‘natural’ body ) intelligences via the ‘serious’ & disciplined study of subjects like eg Tai Chi, Systema, Calisthenics, Mov Nat etc. ( Not just Football & other ‘popular’ sports )

  • * Note

    To at least recognise the ‘possibility’ that whilst a small ‘no of people out there on the streets have ‘serious’ moral problems, many are simply ‘injured’ souls, tension-ridden, & in need of ‘healing’!.

    • * Note

      Some of these ideas have been tried before during the 1980’s
      i.e. the Thatcher years, the 1990s under Blair/Brown, in a ‘half-hearted’, pretend fashion that is eg. Government Training Schemes, Personality Inventories etc plus other departmental ‘platitudes’. But ‘today’ ( & in the future ) how about some wider human reality, some ‘depth’!.

      • * Note

        I remember how in the 1990’s all ‘benefits’ were stopped for 16-18yr olds & how the presiding issue for their ‘new’ minders i.e. local F.E Colleges was over the decision whether to ‘educate’ this ‘underclass’ ( ‘surplus’ working class ) or not.

        NVQ’s were invented, ‘Business’ ones taught by ex assistant Personnel Officers became the norm.
        This has to go!. As for the all the ‘aspirant’ working class who have successfully become School Teachers, I say ‘Educrats’ the lot of ’em!.

        • *Note

          Instead of ‘sanctioning’ those people on the dole who ( ‘morally’! ) refuse to join the currently growing ‘Reserve’ Army of Labour;

          ” When we revolt its not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because for many reasons we can no longer breathe ” ( Franz Fanon ).

          ‘Voluntary’ work of say 1 ( or 1&half ) days per week would ‘legitemate’ the ‘unwaged’ being paid by the State their £50/£60 or so quid a week ‘work’ benefits.

          ( * Note this is not the same as ‘forcing’ so called ‘unemployed’ to work at eg. Poundland, for weeks on end, under the ‘guise’ of work experience. No thats modern-day ‘Slave’ Labour! )

          • * Note

            When I say ‘legitemately’ ( see above ) claiming ‘out-of-work benefits, by doing a reasonable amount of socially useful ‘voluntary’ work, I mean recieving ‘just’ payments from a ‘protective’ State without the fear & humiliation of being labeled ‘ Benefits Scroungers ‘ ! )

          • * Note

            As the ‘economy’ grows & for greater fluidity in ‘hiring’ people; in certain key job areas eg. van drivers, small goods vehicle drivers etc, ban all CVs.

            Why put ‘key’ workers through a humiliating ‘personnel’ process when all they need to do is fill out ‘basic’ applications forms, produce licenses, & then turn up for work the next day.

            Want more people employed, ‘motivated’ & ready to work then cut out ‘the hire’ red-tape; afterall Small Business & Corporations are always seeking to cut out the ‘firing’ regulations.

          • * Note

            So important to keep those ‘amorphous’ Shapeshifters called the Labour Party under wraps. Don’t forget many of their ‘foot-soldiers’ are employed all over the country in our ‘urban’ job-centres, new Deal Offices & the like.

            Want more ‘ordinary’ people in work then we’ve got to find efficient ways to bypass this ‘parasitic’ lot!.

          • * Note

            There are some great ‘advanced’ driving courses happening around towns like Buxton, the Derbyshire Vales. Organisations like the Princes Trust would be ideal in channeling any ‘car’ enthusiasts in their direction.
            *Remember serious high-end ‘forklift’ truck driving is just as true an art-form!.

          • We’ve got to completely ‘re-think’ the role & function of jobcentres & staff in places like Liverpool, Manchester, , Northumbria, Northumberland, Birmingham, London & South Wales.

            We need to review & ‘streamline’ services, shedding staff wherever we can, guiding the remainder back to provision ( & processing ) of actual ‘welfare’ services, & letting people themselves ‘naturally’ gravitate to suitable work, making it as easy as possible for them to do so.

            No good shunting ‘kids’ ( teens ) off to FE Colleges & waiting for good results. No recruitment needs to begin a few years earlier at eg. ages 13, 14 wherebye ’employment’ Ambassadors from local Businesses visit schools, giving ‘presentations & spotting & ‘headhunting’, future best ‘drivers’, trainers & instructor Managers and the like i.e. job ‘preparation’ beginning young!.

          • * Note

            Finally we’ve got to find ways of ‘paying’ ( & rewarding ) this ‘new’ kind of ‘skill base accordingly. Along the lines of the types of ‘bonuses’, company perks typically afforded ‘Accountants’, who are notoriously well looked after by their firms with eg. ‘gym’ memberships, royalty ‘games’ tickets, company meals, & just general good appreciation etc.

          • We need to change the climate that restricts many people them from being who they are i.e. ‘physical’ beings . This may mean ‘liberating’ a whole class from what has in many ways become a ‘self-serving’ utilitarian office culture. I refer to institutions such as the Job Centre, & the ‘invisible’ Housing Benefit Dept; the government beauracracies of Welfare!.

  • The May 7 2015 general election is just around the corner & whilst I have my ‘criticisms’ of both the Labour Party & Tories, let us Street Performers not forget the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party 2 parties that do not necessarily have a ‘clean’ record when it comes to ‘good’ Street Performing Schemes & ‘healthy’ Busking policy.

    The leafy green borough of Solihull, South of Birmingham is a prime example. This hotly contested seat & predominantly Liberal/Green Council preside over what is currently one of the most ‘draconian’ town-centre busking set-ups in the country.

    A few years ago the town had the most ‘open’ of busking codes, you could publicly perform in any ‘freely’ chosen spot for any length of time without ‘fear’ of interference from authorities. However, interestingly, & around the time of the introduction of Camdens ‘Licence’ Scheme, Solihull itself literally ‘overnight’ reduced its busking code to a highly ‘restrictive’ eg 3 spots, with 1hr playing time, alternating every 2 weeks, with each Busker only allowed 2 time periods per day.

    I know Jonny you & the guys ( *some girls ) at Streetslive tend to ‘pick’ your battles but I’m very surprised that so far no one has pressed you on this issue & the potential ‘ Street-Performing cause to be battled for in such a ‘clear’ case as this one. Especially given that at least 2 of your ‘key’ Streetslive.org affiliates in both Birmingham & Bath have direct connections with Solihull, one as a performer, the other also as ‘resident’.

    The scenario is the same as that found in other problem towns/cities. A few it seems possible genuine ‘persistant’ noise nuisances via ‘irresponsible’ Buskers cited by the Council as a reason for ‘clampdowns’! ( I’ve also picked up feedback on this issue from other Buskers I know who have played there regularly ).

    However the ‘timing’ here further suggests to me that the ‘underlying’ motive for busking restrictions in Solihull was also a result of ‘politiking’ ie. the local council pampering to a zenophobic ‘electorate’ during a time of ‘moral’ panic over the influx of Romanian Gypsies & whipped up by the Media.

    Solihull is a place I myself have always avoided despite it literally being located down the road from where I live. I do not ‘busk’ there because its just not my milieu, cup of tea, my culture.

    Again however, there are Streetlive members who do, who live there ( as I mention elsewhere ) yet have turned up in places like Stratford upon Avon, caused ‘noise’ nuisance, conflicted with the likes of myself & yet hypocritically have not ‘challenged’ the ‘real’ ‘oppressive’ busking regime that exists elsewhere, closeby, in a town like Solihull.

    Perhaps now is the time, for these self-styled ‘street’ Activists to do something about it!. You’ve targeted Bath, you’re now targeting Oxford, so why not ‘legitemately’ take a look at Solihull just up the road in Warwickshire.

    Afterall a ‘couple’ of you have ‘popped’ up in Stratford upon Avon where ‘activism’ of this sort is quite unnecessary, the ‘civil’ street sharing code in this town already in existence & as such for a few years now!, so take the ‘trouble’ elsewhere, where its needed, its the wise & ‘rational’ thing to do.

    So, make Solihull your next target, test how liberal, how ‘progressive’ it really is, that is the Liberal Democrat Agenda, The Greens policy, especially with regards Street Perfoming & ‘contemporary’ Street Art!.

    • * Note

      Don’t forget the biggest ( ‘noisiest’ ) complainers in Stratford Upon Avon with regards ‘volume’ interference from your Streetslive.org ‘friends’ from eg. Bath/Solihull were the Magicians/Circus’Jugglesrs’ Acts.

      To be fair Its obviously very important to recognise that these particular ‘complainants’ people/performers are ‘Buskers’ too, & longstanding ones eg. street-performing 20 years plus in Stratford ie. much longer than anyone else!, especially your ‘acolytes’ at Streetslive who have just recently ‘popped’ up in the town.

      I think theres only one way for you at Streetslive.org to put these kinds of ‘wrong’ to ‘right’, to make amends & to seriously’ you care about ‘real’ Street Performing injustices ( & not just the self ‘publicity’ ) and that is by you taking your ’cause’ to Solihull in addition to places like Oxford or Bath.

      It makes more sense to attempt to resolve the clear issues posed to Street Performing & struggle ‘legetimately’ against the ‘real’ challenges facing ‘Buskers’ in a ‘wealthy’ region, that is afterall, even closer to the ‘heart’ of England than the places you’re currently ‘active’ in!.

      • * Note

        Rembember the ‘specific’ complaint made by longstsanding Magicians/Jugglers in Stratford upon Avon against your Bath/Solihul ‘frends’ & Streetslive ‘affiliates’ were remarkably similar to the complaints made in Bath eg. getting ‘drowned’ out ( this time on the Bancroft Gardens i.e park green ) by newcomers to the town using big PA Systems for their ‘singing/acoustic guitar’ Act.

        Likewise as I suggested elsewhere ( & I’ve spoken to the ‘duo’ concerned ) this kind of ‘internal’ busking conflict is easily resolved by good communication with ( & ‘good will’ on behalf of the perpertrators ). This approach worked well in Stratford upon Avon & I’m sure it could work with regards busking justice in places like Solihull and getting collectively ‘active’ & a ‘fairer’ scheme up and running there.

        • * Note

          The quicker you can get ‘internal’ disputes resolved by ‘good’ ( & honest ) communication i.e. no ‘cronyism’ then the stronger & more effective position you are in to handle the ‘political’ games ( played by the more ‘unexpected’ self-interested individuals ) that can crop up as was the rather ‘manipulative’ case in Bath.
          ( See Blog Article/comments ‘Response to Bath & Northeast Somerset Council )

  • I pose the ‘serious’ question ( & challenge! ) to the Streetslive.org ( both members & top Brass! )

    Q. Is there still time to organise & ‘rally’ ( give out the leaflets! ) in the ‘wealthy’ Warwickshire borough of Solilhull, that ‘Green/Liberal Democrat’ stronghold, south of Birmingham & situated at the heart of England.

    Or are we going to have to wait until after the May 7 General Election to ‘challenge’ a place that once had the most ‘open’ busking policy but one that has now been regressively transformed into the most ‘draconian’ ( i.e. highly restrictive! ) Street Performing Schemes to be found in the country ?

    • * Note

      Its time for some ‘healing’, & I say this as a, self-directed, ‘strong’ individual who ‘creatively’ says what they want to say, & goes wherever they want to be, no need to be a ‘wounded’ Outsider!.

      • * Note

        And I ‘return’ to wherever I want to return!

        • * Note

          Plus the ‘official’ reason for the rather severe busking ‘restrictions’ implemented in Solihull was cited as the problematic increase in the no’ of Buskers due to ‘the recession’.

          Today the country is seeing the ‘highest’ growth rates in Europe so therefore this line of reasoning no longer stands ( * as if it ever did! ) & as such it needs to be challenged.

          • *Note

            Like Camden, London, ( although in this instance by a local Liberal Democrat Local Authority ), ‘Buskers’ in Solihull are ‘reduced’ to the level of ‘stooges’ and ‘scapegoats’ for a then ‘failing’ national Economy (* actually a banking crisis! ) and public concerns ( could it be hysteria? ) about ‘immigration’ represented ( could it be whipped up? ) by the mass media. Either way why should ‘Buskers’ & ‘Busking’ be the ‘fall-guy’ for all this?

            The resulting most ‘restrictive’ of busking schemes introduced by the local Council ( * so called ‘plans’ for ‘competent’ busking ) ends up ‘debasing’ Street Performers & Artists rather than enhancing ‘public’ entertainment & perfromance in the town.
            (* See ‘The Silhillian: Plans for ”competent” only Busking’. Google )

  • * Note

    Remember while a wide array of performers from different backgrounds go out busking, a ‘significant’ recent trend has been towards the appearance of more & more ‘tax-paying’ professional-like, Public Musicians who provide both ‘great’ entertainment in our town centres & can be/are a ‘positive’ influence on other town players.

    At a time of ‘economic’ liberalisation with regards shops & ‘shopping’ eg, Sunday ‘opening’s, 24hr day Supermarkets etc, I find it grossly unjust ( a blatant ‘hypocrisy’! ) that whilst shopkeepers & ‘retailors’ on the High Street are ‘recognised’ & allowed to have their ‘business’ opening hrs extended, local ‘authorities’ in places like Solihul wish to ‘over’ control & restrict the playing times & ‘commercial’ activities of Street Performers & Artists.

    • * Note

      As part of a ‘tentative’ definition I do recognise that there are more than a few possible ‘variations’ on the concept of ‘Public Musician’.

      Central to the ‘idea’ though is that however ‘others’ may see themselves, some may ‘distinctively’ first & foremost view themselves ( or ‘grow’ towards a kind of ‘being’ that situates themselves ) ‘intrinsicially’ as ‘Artists’ as Public Musicians

      i.e. they’re not Local Artists as such who do ‘some’ Busking, & they’re not Classically trained ‘function’ musicians, although they may do some Weddings etc, as ‘paid’ work, though in the more ‘communal’ spirit of a kind of ‘folk’ role & function.

  • In relation to Oxford & having just witnessed on Tweet ‘video’ your treatment by Wardens Jonny, despite your seeming support of Ed Miliband, I’d say voting Labour in some parts of the country ( see also Camden ) would be ‘masochism’.

    • * Note

      Its widespread belief that there has’nt been a ‘true’ Socialist in the Labour Party since Neil Kinnock. For me thats why in large part Street Performers have been ‘targeted’ by Labour Councils such as Camden,Oxford ie. as ‘subversives’, in other words as ‘Socialists’!, a ‘militant’ threat to the established order!.

      • * Note

        As there are Hippie Fascists & Art Fascists, for me, there is also such a thing as the Democratic Fascist i.e. the kind of person who insists that given the hard won historical right one must ‘alway’s vote.

        I disagree & strongly believe that there are certain regions in the country, where the only ‘rational’ thing to do is to avoid the ballot box altogether and ‘not’ vote.

        Given the political constituency realities of some areas in the country, ‘ the ‘no’ vote ( certainly ) is a vote ‘ a quite reasonable & legitemate ‘vote’!.

        • * Note

          These people are not interested in Socialism or if we break the term down, the working class’, no what they’re interested in is ‘power’ ( for the sake of )!.

          For many of them their ‘ties’ to the ‘working class’ are simply ‘sentimental’ ones Jonny.
          As soon as even those with working-class backgrounds have gone to university the rather ‘tenuous’ link is broken, its now ‘us & them’.

          Only a handful of establishment MPs remain ‘truly’ connected to the class they are said to represent. The rest are not only detached & distant, they really don’t care that much, except for politically manipulative reasons to understand them. The truth is we live in a popular Capitalist Economy & as such there is not much difference between the mainstream parties.

          The London Metropolitan elite from which Ed Miliband heralds is just that, an insulated Hampstead dream elite with very little in common with those they ‘theorise’ about, the same was with Karl Marx.

          • * Note

            Margaret Thatcher was smart because she realised that the working class are not ‘Socialists’ too with the exception of say the NHS.

            A Bin Man working for Birmingham City Council today can earn up to £40,000 to £50,000 per year with bonuses. Skilled Plumbers, Brickies, & Electricians with the right ‘financial’ planning can ‘retire’ at 55 to a 2nd dream home abroad & a tidy ‘pension’ – they earn more than Teachers etc. As such they don’t want much to change ( unless it brings more! ) lest they lose it all!.

          • * Note

            On a broader ‘social’ level, for me today its more a question of whats to be done with ‘the Underclass’ ( ‘surplus’ Working Class ) & then of course the likes of us Street Performers!.

            I’m all for fighting for a better standard of life for this section of Society but to do that convincingly ( & successfully ) may mean stepping outside standard Socialist ‘dogma’!.

          • * Note
            ” The people recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split level home, kitchen equipment ”
            ( Herbert Marcuse )

          • * Notes ( On Good v Bad Materialism: Lessons from both History & Contemporary Culture )

            ” Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is , & which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit from the present, & from the present to live better in the future ” ( William Wordsworth *See ‘The Romantics’ Parts 1,2,&3 BBC YouTube )

          • * Note

            I love the *The BodyTribe & their philosophy on Post Modern ‘physical’ culture.

            In one of their ‘lectures’ its argued that with the exception of those specialising in ‘ground’ fighting most people eg. 85% of adults, don’t do any ‘crawling’ i.e. walking on all fours!.

            What with all the the ‘office’ politics I’ve experienced ( & suffered from ) as ‘Agency’ unemployed, plus the illusory ‘Busy Bee’ antics you witness from certain would-be social climbers out of this career morass.

            This is perhaps the one ‘rare’ instance where I disagree with the key ‘enlighteners’ ( & inspirationalists!) behind this ‘growing’ movement.
            ( *See The Bodytribe Way – You Tube )

          • * Note

            ” Ambitous But Rubbish ”
            ( Bodytribe TShirt )

            Put this on your T-shirt but remember that whilst achieving ‘Mastery’ ( flow! ) is important, just as important are avoiding the Master/Servant relationships that often go with it!.

          • * Note

            ‘Inspiration’ without domination thats the way!

          • Remember, ”the body is never lazy”, its only the mind. No ‘action’ is the result of ‘de-motivation’ or a ‘broken will’ ( de-humanistion ).

            Thats what the job-centre ( Welfare State process ) does to you. Don’t get me wrong I believe ‘Menial’ work can have its ‘benefits’ eg. I’ve always been attracted to being a ‘lone’ Street Sweeper ( or Public Parksman ), to me a ‘romantic’ notion.

            But answering the telephone, so as to help make the likes of TV ‘Apprentice’ finalists business millionaires, I find quite ‘meaningless'; a very ‘humiliating’ prospect indeed. And Regardless of ‘sanctions’ a definite ‘no- no’!.

  • * Note

    I don’t know about ‘you’ but I don’t just want a ‘job’, I want a life ‘career’, a vocation, a carefully ( ‘freely’ ) chosen, personally tailored ( ie. ‘fitting’ ) meaningful ‘creative’ kind of work to do. As a human-being I don’t want to find myself ‘reduced’ by the Schooling process & then ‘cornered’, my potential ‘dead-ended’ & redirected by the Welfare State. So why should this be the vision ( life dream! ) by ‘politicians’ still being afforded many people in our Society.

    The problem with David Camerons approach ( * Note that no political party adequately deals with this issue ) to ‘welfare’ * wealth creation etc ( * See Adam Smith Definition! ) is that its beginning to sound more like a ‘cold’ , post-modern utilitarian ‘enlightenment’ social hygene project.

    It envisions a system wherebye the ‘underclass’ ( current ‘surplus’ working class ) a significant sector of Society, created by our Schools!, is then as efficiently as possible ‘artificially’ steered away from their ‘natural’ instincts towards ‘independance’ & leaving home ( & if finding themselves ‘unemplyoyed’ justifiably claiming benefits ) towards ‘subsidised’ (family!) ‘training’ for jobs in the ‘Mcdonalds’ Sector.

    Society then runs away from,( ‘escapes’ ), buries in fact, the very ‘real’ underlying social ( & psychotherapeutic ) problem of there being a hell of a lot of ‘ordinary’ people in this country ( under the current regime ) leading seriously ‘stunted’ & distorted lives. We very much remain a ‘nation’ of disatisfied, un-fulfilled, ‘submerged’ individuals. Together with all the rather ‘unhappy’ social problems that this current state of human affairs brings with it!.

    • * Note

      Imagine, you’ve left school at 16, an ‘inner’ city youth with ‘few’ qualifications but with bags of ‘natural’ enthusiasm & as an outcome of your own experience & ‘practical’ wisdom ( visiting farms during Geography classes – *See Michael Gove ‘The English Baccalariate spelling/;;”//???’ *options History or Geography! ) , going shopping at farmers markets with your parents ) you are now ‘working’ in an ‘Independant’ run cafe ( * for a socially ‘conscious’ food chain ), selling ‘organic’ locally produced food, that you’d purchased on behalf of the business yourself ( demanding a ‘sophisticated’ knowledge of food produce & manufacture ), you’ve played the game ( & won ) getting some great ‘deals’ for both Self & Customers, that your customers respect ( indeed ‘love’ ) you, actual ‘friends’ even freqent your place of work, you take ‘personal’ pride in your place of business – you helped decorate, paint, furnish, ‘design’ it even. You share ‘responsibility’ opening & closing, you ‘cycle’ home, your daily excercise centred on human ‘movement’ begins eg. Calishenics, Movnat, Systema, Ginastica Natural, Tai chi, Ashtanga Yoga. You are a ‘naturally’ beautiful person, healthy, high Self Esteem, you speak well and are ariticulate ( both ‘inner’ & ‘outer’ authentic confidence ). You have a girlfriend bubbly, ‘charming’ & pretty!. And Most Important Of All This Is The Lifestyle Of Your Choice! – you worked it out 10 years back as a young child! ( without ‘interference’ from Parents & other Significant Others). ‘You’ Are Happy!.

      • * Note

        Just one thing missing to make this future vision complete ( i.e. ‘an organic dream!’ )

        ” Pilots have their names painted just beneath the canopy of their aircraft. This gives the pilot a sense of ‘ownership’ for his or her jet ”.
        ( Simon Sinek )

        This in addition to the notional sentiment that like cars, each aircraft too has its own personality, so its important for a pilot to get to know and love his aircraft.

        • * Note

          Q. Could eating in city-centre ‘organic’ Cafes be a more ‘entertaining’ option for the masses than the kind of ‘fairground’ attraction on offer at places like Mcdonalds?

          • * Note

            Q. What are the methods by which Society can economically ‘grow’ ie. healthily & positively ? Whilst avoiding the obvious ‘pitfalls’ that comes with the kind of ‘totalitarian’ neo-conservatism we witness now beginning to influence our futures;

            eg. School ‘programmed’ heavily ‘streamlined’ Lumpenproletariat type ‘airport’ lounge exisences, Totalist ‘control’ of the Public Space with PSPO’s replacing ASBO’s etc, Shopping Malls as ‘designer’ consumer brothels.

          • * Note

            Turn over iin your grave Neil Kinnock at the thought of the great Post-Modern ‘grotesque’ irony;

            ” A ‘neo-conservative’ future nightmare implemented by a Labour Authority! ”

          • * Note

            In the Camden borough of London, home of Ed Milliband, the Labour Council actually ‘transcend’ the Tory ‘Ant-Social Behaviour And Policing Bill 2015′ by voting on & ‘creating’ a draconian licensing scheme that severely ‘retricts’ the ‘freedoms’ of Buskers.

          • * Note

            We talk about the Tory attack on the Welfare State but Its important to realise that it was New Labour who first introduced Unemployment Benefit ‘sanctions’ over 15 years or so ago.

            I remember my first ( & only! ) ‘sanction’ by Handsworth Jobcentre very well as it was a month or so following the ‘Twin Towers’ Al Qaeda attack on 9/11 in 2001.

            I’d just come out of hostpital following a ‘minor’ operation, & it was Xmas ( December ) . No compassion ( nor sentiment ) afforded me here, I was ‘penalised’ for having given up an ‘unsatisfactory’ job, which according to them was without good reason.

            Following an unsuccessful ‘appeal’ I was immediately docked a weeks money & then fully benefit ‘capped’ for 2 months. All ‘rights’ under ‘new’ Labour welfare policy guidelines suspended.

  • The Tory Anti Social Behaviour And Policing Bill 2015 was created by David Cameron & his pals as an ‘advancement’ on the pre-existing ASBO. Quite clearly & basically its a political tool readily available to Local Authorities so to control a ‘growing’ ( some would say ‘manufactured’ by ‘new’ Welfare Policy eg. Benefits Sanctions ) Underclass.

    Of course it could be argued that this legislation also provides the ‘opportunity’ for further ‘cynical’ exploitation & the creation of public ‘Cash Cows’ ( see above ) eg by making it easier for councils to create ‘petty’ offences & rake money in from ‘on-the-spot’ fines for ‘minor’ misdemeanours eg. the dog messing on the grass etc, ‘genuine’ Buskers straying into ‘no-go’ areas etc.

    In Labour boroughs like Camden the problem is complicated further when local authorites for ‘various’ political reasons eg. big ‘property’ interests, wish to get rid of ‘established’ cultural practises like Street Performing & Street Art.

    Here the strategy appears to be justify ‘new’ local cultural ‘policy’ by lumping Buskers into that group of ‘undesirables’ the Underclass & by doing so ‘justifiably’ getting rid of them as unwanted ‘outsider public nuisances. This is done rather cleverly & ‘manipulatively’ through ‘indirect’ ( not ‘direct’ as it may seem ) means of ‘control’ i.e the creation of an ‘apparant’ democratic & sensible ‘licence’ scheme but one that in ‘reality’ ( only Street Musicians would know this! ) is so severely ‘restricting’ that it puts most of them off, effectively drives them away!.

    The problem for Street Performers & the like here is that in defending themselves as ‘legitemate’ pubic entertainers,
    ( artists even ) they can fall foul of the very ‘real’ ambiguity of status that exist for them in the eyes of the public & this canbe/is exploited by politicians ( coucillors ) such as the Labour ones in Camden.

    Q. Are Street Performers a ‘colourful’ but slippery group of street chancers or do they represent a ‘genuine’ mode of public art & entertainent ?

    Perhaps more importantly in ‘real’ politik terms its also a matter of how local ‘Business’ interests view Buskers ( and their sort! ) Q. Do Street Entertainers etc represent a ‘threat’ to our interests? The ‘personal’ profit motive?.

    The Labour Council in ‘transcending’ the Tory Anti Social Behaviour Bill & creating a ‘new’ draconian busking license scheme themselves through ‘local’ legislation ( regardless of ‘perceptions’ ) is sending a clear message to big business & property developers reassuring them by saying look, don’t worry, carry on supporting us at the Labour Party because in the event of any ‘developments’ we’ve got everything under control ( ‘ tight’ control! ).

    The damage is ‘now’ done, legislation passed, & except for perhaps ‘publicity’ purposes challenging it legally in the High Courts was always a ‘losing’ battle. For future reference though, if Street Entertainment is to seriously survive i.e. thrive! elsewhere & into the many years ahead then its ‘reputation’, the case for this kind of culture as a public good must be convincingly made.

    Not just to the ‘immediate’ public, council & big business, but from & to a wider perspective & consciousness that speaks of how Street Art itself is ‘growing’, serious ‘focused’ Public Musicians are emerging on our streets, real joy & entertainment can be had by all, & the ‘organic’ counterbalance to mass commercial culture they represent is an artistically ‘valid’ one, from which we can all ‘mutually’ benefit.

    • * Note

      As for the ‘growing’ ( manufactured? ) Underclass eg. not only the drunks, the addicts, the petty thieves but the ‘hidden’ homless : ‘sleeping’ on the couches, living with ‘mom’ still at the age of 45, sleeping in the hostels, The Mac’ job workers et al, single Mothers, people of race, many ‘women’ still in general etc there needs to be a ‘radical’ re-thinking of schooling, the ‘human’ purpose of the Welfare State, & practical ‘existential’ philosophy, lifestyle & training & the nature of ‘work’ (& the workplace! ). These people need to be given the opportunity to play to their ‘strengths’, do what they ‘enjoy’ & enskill themselves & ‘grow’ & be happy & to lead as ‘richer’ life, as anyone else!.

      • * Note

        For all this to happen we’ve got to ‘balance’ out the ‘controls’, address & challenge the ‘extremes’ of control-freak culture, from Stalinist socialist behind-the-scenes ‘commitee’ style politics to Post Modern Enlightenment ‘neo-conservative’ Capitalist Totalitarianism. The enemy as all ‘the best minds’ have concluded these last few centuries is ‘Totalitarianism’.

        This includes fighting to keep our right to breath, for ‘meditative’ space in which to make our ‘free’ choices, to ‘rationally’ act out of our own ‘personal’ justice interests. In this context we must recognise that a certain amount of individual human ‘control’ is not only good, its necessary for our health, our spiritual, mental & physical well-being.

        • * Note

          Lets face it, the New Labour, Tory ‘jobs’ regimes, ‘welfare’ regimes, ‘sanctionsl regimes of recent years ( ‘our’ contemporary decade ) are not ‘tough love’ at all. ( nor are they the ‘painful’ yet honest political manfiestation of fair comment on the times ).

          No they’re the ‘machinations’ of an over controlling, harsh, cruely dominating
          Father. Whose views ( & policy ) upon closer ‘life’ examinationa are quite unnecessary, & far from ( even ‘hiding’ ) the social truth!.

          • * Note

            Its one thing to be ‘conscious’ of all the politiking that goes on at ‘local’ level in favour of ‘vested’ interest.

            But a further question ( already made in various guises See Above ) I’d like to put is Q. How many of these eg Camden Councillors are basically ‘political’ pygmies who get a sadistic kick ( & personal ‘spiritual’ upliftment ) through the ‘debasement’ of Buskers & Street Performers?

          • * Note

            This thing has got to be challenged on every level, yes even ‘deep’ psychological ones, if we are to get progress here in terms of ‘human’ freedoms, culture & ‘civil’ liberties

          • * Note

            In the interests of health, ‘civic’ health they need to be ‘resolved’ to!.

          • * Note

            A final ‘creative’ psychological solution!

          • * Note

            We ‘strive’ for positive, ‘inclusive’ change!. In the meantime of course we see that their are plenty of ‘riches’ already in our lives, take a look around you, ‘acres of diamonds!’.

            I look out of my ‘window’ ( over the High Street ) & ok see 2 rusting, ‘discoloured’ Council ‘recycling’ bins to the left & an empty, boarded up ‘patch’ of green land that ‘property’ interests are no doubt sitting on, waiting for land prices to rise to the right, next door to the local Health Centre.

            However I’ve long realised that if a ‘riverboat’ worker on the Burungati River, from Dacca, Bangladesh were to take ‘seriously’ ill right now & thu’ philanthropy ( or other stroke of good ‘fortune’ ) was flown to Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hostpital for treatment, & then invited by ‘close’ family to rest & recuperate here.

            He would wake up from ‘anaesthetic’ the following morning take a look out of ‘this’ window at the trees, the Spring bloom, the silver Jaguars & the golden Jeeps, the utopian suburban cul-de-sac ‘visually’ ahead, the ‘beautiful’ people & swear that he had ‘died’ & reawoken in ‘heaven’!.

          • * Note

            How long would it be before he ‘pined’ for home & family I don’t know. But for the moment a ‘visual’ feast!.

  • I currently live in ‘shared’ ( communal ) accomodation. Directly underneath me where I live on the High Street, is a ‘mobile’ phone shop previously an Estate Agents, & at the back a ‘working’ Restaurant.

    I’ve been living here for 4 or 5 yrs now, with every night ‘music’ reaching up from ‘downstairs’ from the Restaurant. I don’t vew this as ‘mental’ torture’ though ( unlike the unnecessary – if you have ‘proper’ busking codes – ‘mobbing’, over ‘surveilling’ etc by City-centre Wardens who claim to be just doing their job ). In this context it would be more accurately described as ‘functional’ noise, integral to the business & as such you rationally ‘accept’ it, percieve it differently, ‘filter’ it out, adapt & get used to it.

    The same is with the shop underneath what with their Estate Agents TV ‘live’ shows from India ( that was a little bit too much everyday, all day I must admit! ) & more these days the more ‘intermittant’ rap from the phone shop.

    Remember, its Government policy to persuade more & more High Street Shopkeepers to let out ‘living’ space above & for homeless ‘tenants’ to rent them. This ‘reality’ a bit like ‘Busking’ on the public streets can take a bit of ‘grown-up’ understanding & healthy ‘adaptation’ for this kind of relationship to work, & it can, & it does!.

    • * Note

      All this ‘meditation’ on the ‘streets’ & ‘Politics’ has got me reflecting on personal life and experience in general. Nothing to do with the ‘voodoo’ that is ‘welfare’ at present or the current ‘housing market’, but you know ‘relatonships’ n’ stuff like that.

      I ask my ‘Self’ Q. Do you have any life regrets ?

      I think, I say to myself A. Well, I just wish, I had mmmmm’, you know, a few more ‘one-night’ stands ( ‘no’ relationships at all, would have rendered life perhaps, a little too ‘colourless’ ! ).

      • * Corrections

        ” relationships ” ( not relatonships n’ stuff ) , ” I’d had ” ( not I had mmmmm )

  • ” The Welsh are not like any other people in Britain, and they know how separate they are. They are ‘the Celts’, the tough little wine-dark race who were the original possessors of the island, who never mixed with the invaders coming later from the east, but were slowly driven into the western mountains ”.
    ( Laurie Lee – ‘ I Can’t Stay Long ‘ )

    • * Extended Riff

      ” The burning off and the gathering together are one ”
      ( Singing The Snake: Poems from The Western Desert )

      • * Tribal Chant

        ” The ‘American’ Model was celebrated by Thatcherites & New Labour alike, California worshipped as the model of the future. ‘ Anglo-Saxon’ embalmed as the fitting metaphor for the shared Anglo-American legacy, Europe denigrated and the rest of the world ignored ”
        ( Martin Jacques: ‘The Birth of A New Global Order’ )

  • Its general election day, May 7. In a bit of a rush though & having my breakfast; no time for ‘serious’ thought or reflection. Just watched my favourite ad on YouTube, ‘Mars is Winning’ & its true, ” a Mars a day really does help you work, rest & play ! ”.

    • Happpppppppppy!

      • * Note

        Poor Ed Miliband, having lost the ‘election’ is now getting attacked from all sides for having failed to cater to the needs fo the so called ‘aspirational’ classes.

        What these ‘shortsighted’ critics need to be reminded of is the ‘obvious’ ie. that ‘all ‘ sectors of Society are ‘aspirational’ especially the poor. Q The Evidence? A. The hordes of poor Africans currently willing to risk ‘death’ by drowning to reach Europes shores & so ‘escape’ the terribel ‘povery’ back home.

        As for ‘the Underclass Myth’ that the ‘unfortunate’ in this country are to blame for their own plight, i.e. victims of there own ‘laziness’. Remember again that, ”the body is never lazy”, its only the mind. No ‘action’ is the result of ‘de-motivation’ or a ‘broken will’ ( de-humanistion ).

        Thats what the job-centre ( Welfare State process ) does to you. Don’t get me wrong I believe ‘Menial’ work can have its ‘benefits’ eg. I’ve always been attracted to being a ‘lone’ Street Sweeper ( or Public Parksman ), to me a ‘romantic’ notion.

        But answering the telephone, so as to help make the likes of TV ‘Apprentice’ finalists business millionaires, I find quite ‘meaningless'; a very ‘humiliating’ prospect indeed. And Regardless of ‘sanctions’ a definite ‘no- no’!.

        • * Note

          In one sense I’m glad ‘fringe’ groups like The Greens have done so well in the ‘elections’, & I congratulate them on their increase in ‘membership’.

          No longer a single issue ‘pressure group’, I await in eagerness & expectation for what I hope will be the development of a ‘progressive’ education policy. One that will ‘liberate’ the minds of our young children, finally ridding us of the ‘ All Things Bright And Beautiful ‘ hidden curriculum that currently dominates school ‘assemblies’!.

  • Irene S says

    I live in Oxford. The situation with street performers in the city centre is now so bad that when my daughter comes back from uni and needs to go into the city centre she works out where she has to go and works out a route that avoids Cornmarket. There can be musicians, fire eaters, statues, people selling flying birds, balloons and scarves and capo-era dancers. The crowds stretch right across the space from Moss Bros to Boots and it’s very difficult to get past, especially without a pushchair to force a route through! It’s not at all clear who is responsible for ensuring that a way is clear. Saturday afternoons are the worst time. One of the reasons that this is so important is because the parallel roads are effectively out of bounds for anyone with mobility problems because of cobbles and parking on the pavements. A previous Labour mayor of Oxford now needing a walking stick no longer goes alone onto the city centre because it’s so difficult to get around. So it all depends on whether one comes into the city for a fun day out – buskers no problem – or to go to the library, the bank, to collect a prescription and go to the dentist. The crowds around the buskers also mean that one has to allow an extra five minutes to get from one bus stop to another.
    Easy to be liberal about street performers if you’re a visitor or a student, one has less sympathy if one want to get around quickly with a list of errands.

    • Jonny says

      Hi Irene, thanks for your comment and sorry to hear of the problems you describe. Nonetheless, one does not have to be ‘liberal about street performers’ to agree that criminalising people and fining them up to £2500 is a disproportionate response to what mostly amounts to inconvenience or minor nuisance at worst. Oxford Council already have extensive powers available to deal with noise nuisance or obstruction of the highway. These additional powers are arbitrary and create unnecessary ill feeling.

      Please see this link for an example of a busking best practise guide agreed in Liverpool between the buskers and the council. A similar policy could work very well in Oxford as an alternative to these plans:


      Thanks once again for your time.

      • ” By end of 2020, there will be no criminal justice system at all. Any wrongdoers will be dealt with at their local Tescos express! ”
        ( *Source withheld )

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